White sand beach…
Amazing ocean color…
And lava rocks from a volcano!
With the Big Island being the Hawaiian island that’s best known for volcanoes…
And with Hawaii being known for its beaches…
Can there be a better “very Big Island” and “very Hawaii” type beach than the beach at Kua Bay?!
Okay so actually, there are 2 more beaches within a couple of miles at the same state park (Kekaha Kai State Park)… which are also very amazing and can give you that “very Big Island” beach and “very Hawaii” beach type feel.
But for now, we’ll focus on the beach at Kua Bay because in many ways it can be the most convenient and the easiest to access between these beaches that are in the same area. (But a bit more about the other 2 beaches below in case you want more activity in your day – aka hiking!)
And in general, it’s always good to check for official alerts before you go (this can include beach warnings), and here’s the official state park website.
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!
- Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii
- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in Hawaii
- Do you need water shoes for Hawaii?
- THE top things to pack for Hawaii
The best of the Big Island:
- Things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Where to see lava fields on the Big Island
- The big list of things to do on the Big Island
7 reasons to go to Kua Bay
I made a visit to the Kua Bay beach (aka Maniniowali Beach) in August 2019.
1. It’s a white sand beach on the Big Island!
…and among the best white sand beaches on the Big Island?!
2. The drive to the beach comes with ocean views
Once you turn off the highway and onto the road that leads directly to the state park, you’ll be treated to amazing coastal views for a great scenic drive on the Big Island!
3. It’s a part of a Hawaii state park
4. There are beach facilities
There are bathrooms right near the parking lot, and then there are outdoor showers to rinse off sand and salt water after your day at the beach.
5. There’s a lifeguard
There’s a lifeguard at this Hawaii state park beach (this is a relatively recent addition), but still be sure to take care when you’re in the water!
That goes for any beach you go to on the Big Island!
6. It’s near Kona Airport
Kua Bay is right near the airport, maybe a 10-15 minute drive.
This means that you’ll see the occasional airplane in the sky with the flights arriving to the Big Island.
But what makes this a good thing…
If you’re arriving to Kona airport during the day, or if you have a few hours to spare before your flight out of the Kona airport…
You can head to Kua Bay for an amazing FIRST impression of the Big Island, or for an amazing LASTING impression of the Big Island!
Or, if you have a layover at Kona airport of more than a few hours, you can rent a car directly at the airport and then head over to Kua Bay for enjoy your short time on the Big Island!
There are 2 main entrances to Kekaha Kai State Park.
The one to get to Kua Bay directly is the one with the sign for the Maniniowali section. This is the northern side of the state park, so the second main state park entrance when you’re coming from Kona airport.
7. Kua Bay can be the start of a beach to beach to beach hike on the Big Island
So the 3 great white sand beaches at Kekaha Kai State Park are:
- Kua Bay
- Makalawena Beach
- Mahaiula Beach
If you’re up for a long day of hiking, you can go beach hopping by foot!
This is how I did this beach to beach hike from Kua Bay to Mahaiula Beach (and back) at Kekaha Kai state park:
- Kua Bay Beach to Makalawena Beach (via Puu Kuili Trail)
- Makalawena Beach to Mahaiula Beach
- Mahaiula Beach to Kua Bay Beach (by road)
This did basically take me the full day, but it was amazing views nearly the whole time!
For a short hike at the state park with amazing views of the Kona coast from higher up, see the Puu Kuili hike which you can start from the Kua Bay parking lot!
More photos from Kua Bay!
And that’s a bit of what you might see with a visit to Kua Bay!
Explore more of Kekaha Kai State Park:
- Puu Kuili Hike
- Makalawena Beach: Hike to it or drive to it with a 4wd
- Mahauila Beach
- The best of Kekaha Kai State Park
HAPPY SEEING A WHITE SAND BEACH ON THE BIG ISLAND AT KUA BAY!
Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!
The ultimate beach towel for travel?!Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
Possibly among the best Big Island maps for tourists!The Franko maps of Hawaii have a high level of detail for activities and it's beachproof aka waterproof. There's an "adventure" guide map and a "snorkel/dive" guide map. Plus a wall map for home to get you excited for your upcoming trip to Kona!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phoneYou can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.
Be sure to take a look at the reviews of these amazing tours on the Big Island:
- Sailing the ocean with a sail + snorkel trip
- Kona's most popular tour: Swimming in the ocean at night with manta rays (likely to sell out)
- Star gazing at Mauna Kea volcano
- Dream Hawaii helicopter flight: Circle the Big Island to see Hawaii's volcanoes from above
- Sail the ocean in the evening on the Captain Cook historical sunset dinner cruise (likely to sell out)